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Wood County Sheriff updates commissioners on new hires

PARKERSBURG — The Wood County Sheriff’s Department has hired a new deputy and evidence tech as Wood County Sheriff Rick Woodyard discussed how the department is looking at other ways to handle mental hygiene patients.

Woodyard appeared before the Wood County Commission on Thursday to discuss and get approvals for his new hires as well as discuss some of the challenges the department has in dealing with mental hygiene patients.

The commission approved the hiring of Dylan R. Lowe as a Deputy and James Mills as an Evidence Tech.

Lowe recently took a department test and passed. Officers within the department thought he would be a good candidate. They are working to get his paperwork in so he can attend the academy.

They will be putting him with a field training officer (FTO) to begin to learn the department’s procedures, laws, firearms training and more. He will go to the academy. Once he graduates, he will have additional time with the FTO, but Woodyard said they will be able to get him out on his own quicker by doing some of his training now.

Woodyard said this approach was necessary these days.

They have four other positions they are looking to fill.

He is looking at alternatives with dealing with mental hygiene patients where a deputy sometimes has to remain with them for several hours at the hospital, taking away from their patrol time.

Woodyard is looking at shifting some of the civilian staff to do home checks for home confinement checks now that those numbers are starting to increase as well as being with the mental hygiene patients in order to keep the deputies out on the road.

“I think that will help keep the deputies out on the road where they need to be,” Woodyard said. “I think that will really help us out … and alleviate some of the pressure on the deputies from doing things I consider to be a non-law-enforcement function.”

Woodyard said those people would receive training in how to handle themselves and deal with mental hygiene patients and de-escalation techniques.

He is concerned about medical issues that might come up that his people have no training to deal with.

He believes these patients should be transported by ambulance after being initially brought in by law-enforcement. The sheriff said legislation is being worked on in the legislature.

The sheriff is also concerned with his department having to deal with mental hygiene patients who are brought in from other counties. Woodyard said they are billing other counties for their time, including overtime, mileage and other expenses.

Regarding the Evidence Tech position, Woodyard said Mills has 26 years experience in law enforcement having served with the West Virginia State Police and commanded the Parkersburg-Wood County Narcotics and Violent Crimes Task Force for several years.

The sheriff wants to use the model the Parkersburg Police Department has, hiring a retired officer with investigation experience as an evidence tech. He wants Mills to train with the Parkersburg Police tech. They would operate under the same procedures so if they would have to work together on a major incident they would be on the same page with processes and how things are handled.

Wood County Prosecutor Pat Lefebure also recommended Mills, speaking highly of the times they worked together when Mills was on the task force.

Woodyard wanted to see about getting Mills a vehicle. The commission asked him to bring them recommendations.

In other business:

* The commission opened four bids to tear down houses and remove the debris on five properties in Happy Valley. JC Bosley put in a bid for $39,700, Jimmy Harper Construction put in a bid for $44,500, Tim Graham Excavating put in a bid for $28,800 and Empire Builders put in a bid for $42,000. The commission put the bids under advisement for the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council to go over and review. Officials expect they will approve the winning bid next Thursday.

County officials have been clearing properties and planting trees on the properties to help control erosion.

* The commission set the days and times for the annual session where the commission meets as the Board of Equalization and Review to review property assessments made by the Wood County Assessor’s Office.

They will meet as the board on Feb. 3, 7, 10, 14 and 17 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. If needed appointments can be made from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on those days.

Hearings will also be available, by appointment, Monday, Feb. 7 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The assessor will submit the property books for the current year at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 3.

Brett Dunlap can be reached at bdunlap@newsandsentinel.com

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